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The Great Pipeline Debate in Canada

Blogger: David Coletto

Energy policy is front and centre in Canadian political debate these days.  With the Obama Administration cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and Canadians debating whether to build the  Northern Gateway Pipeline, Canadian Millennials should be a major part of this conversation.  Yet, according to our most recent survey, Millennials are tuning out the debate.

Compared with non-Millennials, Canadian Millennials are less likely to be aware of the Northern Gateway Pipeline (42% aware compared with 65% overall) and few hold a clear position on the project with 27% saying they support it and  26% saying they are opposed to it.  Most Canadian Millennials (47%) who responded to our survey said they neither supported nor opposed the project.

So what’s going on?  Is this a case of apathetic young Canadians completely tuning out what’s happening in one of the country’s most important debates?

It appears, unfortunately, that’s exactly what is happening.  We just don’t care or at least, aren’t following the debate close enough to really have an opinion.  And in my opinion, that’s a shame.  Our future, our ability to pay for the social programs we value, and the strength of the economy and quality of our environment depends on national projects like the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  And yet, most of us choose to sit at the sidelines.

Interestingly, our survey found that Millennials and non-Millennials have very similar opinions when it comes to what is important in the debate over the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

We asked all respondents to rank five factors that the federal government should consider when deciding to proceed with the project from most important to least important.  Overall, respondents were more likely to rank environmental considerations as important ahead of the economic benefits derived from the project.

Millennials held very similar views to non-Millennials with a plurality ranking environmental impacts as their top concerned followed by the national economic benefits of the project.